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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

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Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 19, 2003 | | September 21, 2003 »
September 20, 2003

Cruz, Arnold tied in new poll

The drive to recall Gray Davis leads 53-42 among likely voters while the race to replace the governor remains a toss-up between Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with state Sen. Tom McClintock trailing in third place, according to a new poll to be released Sunday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll of 2,001 adults, including 1,033 likely voters, was conducted between Sept. 9 and 17. Among its findings:

--Support for the recall has dropped since the institute’s last survey a month ago, when the recall led 58-36 among likely voters.

--Cruz Bustamante leads the replacement election with 28 percent, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at 26 percent. That difference is within the poll’s margin of error and reflects a dead heat. Tom McClintock was third with 14 percent. A full 18 percent of voters remain undecided going into the campaign’s final two weeks.

--Bustamante so far has the support of just 49 percent of Democrats, with 11 percent saying they will back Schwarzenegger and 6 percent supporting McClintock.

--Schwarzenegger leads McClintock 47-24 among Republicans, with 7 percent saying they intend to vote for Bustamante.

--Among independents, Bustamante leads with 24 percent while Schwarzenegger has 21 percent and McClintock 12.

--Unlike other polls, which showed the state’s Latino vote badly split, the PPIC survey shows 49 percent of Latinos backing Democrat Bustamante. Schwarzenegger gets 15 percent and McClintock 9. The PPIC poll has by far the largest sample of Latinos of the three independent polls in California.

--Just under half of voters, or 49 percent, say the recall against Davis is an appropriate use of the provision, while 45 percent say it is not.

Look for the full poll to be posted some time Sunday here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:06 PM

Sweat equity

A few days ago I asked for candidate ideas on balancing the budget. Randall Sprague is on the ballot, and has exactly one year's experience as a member of his homeowner's association board of directors. Here are his ideas on how to fix the state's fiscal mess. His most intriguing suggestion: let students work off some of their tuition by picking up the slack for laid off state workers. Mr. Sprague, meet the California State Employees Assn.!

Posted by dweintraub at 7:00 PM

The week ahead

Here’s a preview of the week ahead in the recall race:

Monday: All eyes will be on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco as an 11-judge panel that experts says is about as conservative as you can get from this court considers whether the election should continue as scheduled until Oct. 7 or be cancelled midstream and reset for a later date. The hearing begins at 1 p.m., with each side getting 30 minutes to argue its case.

Tuesday: Early betting is that a decision in the case could come as soon as Tuesday. If the election is left on Oct. 7, the campaign will resume in earnest as the plaintiffs in the case appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. No one thinks the high court would reverse such a ruling. If the 9th Circuit panel cancels the election, recall supporters will appeal to the Supremes, and what they might do then is a much tougher call.

Wednesday: The first and perhaps only debate in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to participate will begin at 6 p.m. at Sacramento State University. Other participants will be Tom McClintock, Arianna Huffington and Peter Camejo. Cruz Bustamante, the leading Democrat in the race, is still considering whether to participate. The debate promises to be a wide-open exchange, with opening questions pulled from among a dozen already made public, with each question followed by a no-holds-barred discussion among the candidates. Each of the participants will be able to rebut and question the others under the guidance of a moderator, with no pre-set time limits other than one-minute for the first answer to each question. See my earlier item here for a list of the questions.

This debate will be the most watched political event in California history, and the pressure will be on Schwarzenegger. If he can leave viewers feeling comfortable with him as a political figure and not just a celebrity, if he makes no major mistakes and demonstrates leadership qualities, he could get a major boost from the event heading down the stretch of the campaign. If he makes a blunder, looks foolish or out of his element, voters who have been on the fence might write him off and start thinking about their alternatives. Bustamante, meanwhile, has to show that he is more than a candidate of the casino Indian tribes and the state’s emerging Latino population. Look for him to appeal to the state’s middle class by bashing big business and promising to hold down and roll back college tuition while boosting funding for K-12 education. McClintock must convince Republicans that he can win if they abandon Schwarzenegger and he must show independents and Democrats why his conservative principles should appeal to them.

Thursday. The Republican Party’s county chairmen have scheduled a private meeting in Sacramento at which they will consider endorsing either Schwarzenegger or McClintock. Schwarzenegger has the edge here and, if he performs well at the debate, should win this unprecedented contest. This endorsement, if it comes, is the closest any candidate can come to getting the official stamp of the Republican Party. McClintock and his allies are already portraying the meeting as a potential “back-room deal” of party bosses aimed at railroading the rank and file into backing Schwarzenegger and forcing McClintock out of the race. It remains an open question whether winning this battle helps or hurts Schwarzenegger in the greater war. His aides are convinced that the way for him to win lies in sewing up the Republican vote, and they think he can do that by winning the visible backing of party leaders. But doing so amid criticism of the process from rank and file activists risks making him appear to be a typical politician and not the insurgent he started out to be. It also holds the danger of telling Democrats and independents, who lean left in this state, that this is a partisan race.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:51 AM

Davis signs partners bill

Governor Davis has taken the political ritual of burying controversial news on Friday afternoon to new heights, and now he seems to have extended the rule to cover even mildly risky moves, like yesterday’s signing of AB 205, the domestic partners legislation. The religious right hates this bill and has threatened to sue to block its enactment. Their beef: the voters said in 2000 that state-sanctioned marriage should be only between a man and a woman. But this bill doesn’t create gay marriage. It simply gives to domestic partners most of the same rights and responsibilities that married people have under state law. And polls have consistently shown that voters make this distinction. They want the institution of marriage restricted to heterosexual couples but want gay couples to be accorded the same rights and privileges they would have if they were married. If I were king I would get the government out of the marriage business entirely, privatize it and leave it up to couples to draft contracts that suited their needs. But there are certain issues like community property, child custody and child and spousal support obligations, mutual responsibility for debts and the right to make funeral arrangements, which have become the prevue of the state and will probably remain so. I see no problem in extending these rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples. Doing so carries no adverse effects for third parties, and in fact might be of benefit to those seeking to collect debts from domestic partners, and to the state if partners are required to pay child or spousal support that keeps their partners from needing state services. Here is the Bee’s story on the bill signing, and here is the latest legislative analysis of the measure.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:46 AM

What the tribes want

What do the Indians want from Sacramento? The LA Times answers the question here, in a comprehensive story on the growth of the tribal casino lobby and its political agenda in the Capitol. Registration required.

The Bee has a story here on recent casino tribe compacts containing an important new concession to their neighbors.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:45 AM

'Never mind'

The debate about the debate seems to be cooling down now that all of the potential participants have read the rules. McClintock agrees to participate after realizing that the format allows all the canididates to ask each other as many questions as they like, providing the possibility for what his campaign manager calls the "WWF" of debates. Bustamante is still checking. Here is the story in the Bee.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:26 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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